Monday, February 16, 2009

Dodonaea angustifolia (Sand olive)

For the month of November, we take a look at the deciduous Dodonaea angustifolia. This highly adaptable, evergreen tree can be used as a stunning stand-alone feature tree or shrub due to its annual profusion of pink coloured, winged fruits that resemble flowers and appear in late spring to early summer. Most notably, the D. angustifolia is a practical, highly effective ground stabilizer and beautiful boundary / hedging plant.

Our 50 litre stocks of Dodonaea angustifolia are large and full for their bag size and are looking very healthy with their current profusion of fruit. Contact Rudi or Leske to find out more.


Botanical Name: Dodonea angustifolia L.f
Common Name: Sand Olive
Genus: Sapindaceae
RSA National Tree No’: 437


The roots of the Sand Olive are soil binding and effective in reclaiming marshes - they are therefore an excellent choice for sand dune fixation and erosion control. Grown as an ornamental tree for its shiny foliage and decorative pink-red winged fruits, the Sand Olive lends itself well to decorative landscape gardening. Where boundary or barrier or support is required, D. angustifolia makes a good hedging plant, especially for dry areas.


Height: Usually 3-7m but can occasionally reach 10m
Spread: 3-5m
Deciduous/Evergreen: Evergreen
Growth Habit: The sand olive is commonly found in scrub, as well as on mountains and in rocky soils.
Bark: Dark grey, fissured and peeling on the trunk and reddish brown on the branches.
Foliage: Leaves are simple lanceolate, pale green in colour and with pointed tips. Each leaf is 5-10 cm long and 5-8 mm wide. The leaves secrete a gummy exudate – resulting in the overall glossy appeal of the foliage.
Flowers: The flowers are inconspicuous and pale green.
Fruit: Appearing in late spring to early summer, the fruits themselves are pale green and surrounded by 3 membranous, papery wings which are coral pink to red in colour.
Seed: Seed is black, smooth.


Growing regions: The D. angustifolia is native to Australia, Ethiopia, Kenya, New Zealand, Oman, South Africa and Tanzania.
Growing conditions: D. angustifolia is a fast growing and hardy shrub. Little or no management is required once it is established. It regenerates rapidly after burning and prefers full to filtered sun.
Best season: Spring - Autumn
Hardiness: Frost hardy. Tolerates a fair amount of climatic and soil variation.
Propagation: Seedlings, wildings and direct sowing are used to propagate the Sand Olive. A pre-sowing treatment is not necessary. Seeds can be stored for up to one year with germination rates ranging between 30-70%.
Growth rate: 50cm per year


The Dodonaea was named after Rambert Dodoaens, a famous 16th century physician and author on plants. The fruits ‘hops’ can be fed to cattle and the flowers are ideal bee forage. The Sand Olive provides good quality charcoal and firewood. The wood is hard, termite resistant and heavy making it useful for implement handles. A root infusion is used as a remedy for the common cold in East and South Africa, while the leaves have anaesthetic properties and are chewed for their stimulating effect. Other medicinal uses include remedies for fever, sore throats, chest complaints, influenza, stomach disorders and cancer.

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